10 classic book marketing errors and how to avoid them

Book marketing is an evolving world. Under the pressures of modern society, where the future of the book trade is always a matter of uncertainty and where books, for the most part, seem to be winning the war against all of the technology-based reading we do nowadays, how books are marketed becomes of the utmost importance.

A successful marketing campaign, in the crowded literary landscape, can be the difference between selling 100,000 copies and selling none at all. As shocking that is to hear, the quicker it is understood the better. For such a vital industry, book marketing is still littered with mistakes that are made time and time again. So, without further ado, here are 10 classic book marketing errors that you need to avoid.

1. Ignoring social media

Literature and social media are somewhat at odds. One an ‘old as time itself’ tradition founded on learning and teaching, the other a recent upstart phenomenon that changes constantly and is founded on likes and hashtags. But for marketing of essentially any sort these days, social media is key. It’s a casual, inoffensive way to get the word about your book out to millions.

2. Not identifying your market

You’re not trying to sell your book to everyone. Mainly because it’s impossible. It’s also inefficient and, ultimately, won’t garner you the results you want. Find your target audience and, well, target them. Play up the elements to your book that appeal to your target audience and play them up.

3. Forgetting to segment

Segmentation is the act of dividing your audience into demographics. By doing this you can then target your advertising campaigns to each of the segments. This is a bit like the point above, except it involves recognizing the appeal your book has to lots of different types of people and then marketing to all of those groups specifically in different manners.

4. Paying too little attention to your website

Again, there’s a sense in which there is a bit of an analogue vs digital element to this, but in book marketing it is crucial. To build up hype and to host all the links from which your book can be bought, a website is vital. It’s also a reality of modern book-selling that the bulk of it happens online. A website can also be an excellent place to host reviews, interviews, biography of the writer and lots of other extras that readers appreciate.

5. Maintaining good writing

So, you’ve got a stunningly well written novel on your hands, a masterpiece. Let me tell you know, if the marketing for a book, of all things, slips up on issues of grammar, spelling, syntax, legibility and other basic writing elements, then you’re in trouble. These should be handled by a professional copywriter and then proofread, several times.

6. Forgetting to hire an art designer

The world is full of hilarious examples of writers and editors putting together horribly designed book covers and other promotional art. It’s funny for us, but not for them. In fact, it can be the death of a good book. The key to managing this side of things is hiring a designer. Don’t put together a few sketches of your own, get a professional to do the covers and all the other promotional design you need. You’ll thank me in the end.

7. Failing at ‘Amazon’

Amazon is the biggest book selling resource out there. It’s to some people’s chagrin, but it’s the reality and it has to be acknowledged. Managing your book over Amazon, whether that is in the form of a Kindle E-Book or just in the book section of their online store, is crucial to its success. If a book can’t be found in a book store most people’s first instinct is to look to Amazon. Having your book incorrectly listed, with the wrong keywords and categories, could lead to disaster. Make sure you get it right.

8. Failing to diversify publishing

Writers can be difficult, no offense to any of you reading. Often a writer will run with a hardback-only mentality, viewing their work as precious. This is a mistake. In the modern world you have to be more diverse than that. Hardback, paperback, anthologizing, e-Book, audiobook and more all have to be used by you as a publisher, writer or marketer. It’s not going to cut it, unless you have already achieved enormous fame, to release one type of book. So, make sure that you explore all these in marketing the work.

9. Leaving out the letter to the reader

Every book should include this feature, but not all book marketers are wise to the power of the inclusion of the note. A letter to the reader is a great way to encourage the initial purchase as well as the pos-read review and sharing it with friends which readers can do. It makes the readers connect with the author and it can lead to free marketing, depending on your readers’ tastes.

10. Ignoring influencers

Influencers, usually found on social media, have incredible power to, for lack of a better word, influence people in what they should buy, approve of and enjoy. Finding people who for some reason have a connection to your work and giving them, for example, a free advanced copy, opens up the chance that they will share your book with their considerable following. If they do this, it’s an extremely inexpensive form of marketing, likely to garner you great success.

So, there you have it. You have to be proactive and open minded to sell well as a writer in the modern era. And, as a publicist, you must look closely for all of the possible ways in which you can propel your author’s sales, even if that involves looking far outside the box.